August 17, 2011 1:07:00 PM
You may not know the world''s largest potato chip -- 23 inches by 14 1/2 inches -- was produced by the Pringles Co. in Jackson, Tenn., in 1990. Or that a potato was the first food to be grown in space. But we all know potatoes are nutritious and inexpensive, and so versatile they could be used in a different way every day of the year.
You don''t have to be a Mr. (or Mrs.) Potato Head -- the first toy to be advertised on television -- to love the root vegetable that is reported to be the second most consumed food in the United States. (Milk/dairy products are first.)
The starchy tuber is often maligned in a low-carb world, but potatoes are not inherently "bad" for us. However, the ways we sometimes prepare them leave something to be desired. Food.com reports that some sources estimate one-third of all potatoes are destined for the fryer. And we admit, passing up butter and sour cream on a fluffy baked potato does take some will power.
Actually, a medium sized potato (5.5 ounces) is only 100 calories, fat-free, and contains 3 grams of fiber, 45 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C, and 21 percent of the daily requirement for potassium, says food.com. And that''s for starters.
The gluten-free potato is also mentioned multiple times in sample MyPlate menu plans released by the USDA this year to help foster healthy eating.
Cook ''em up
Calorie-counting aside, the prevalent potato -- grown in all 50 states and in 125 countries worldwide -- plays well with others from morning ''til night.
Breakfast casseroles, potato pancakes and several other recipes can be made with fresh potatoes, shredded or diced. Short on time? Best-potato-recipes.com recommends using frozen hash browns or even dried potatoes.
For your breakfast potato casseroles, try adding chopped onion, diced ham, bacon or sausage, and almost any vegetable you''re partial to.
Who doesn''t love potato soup? One tip: shred the potatoes instead of cutting them into pieces. The shredded potato can be cooked along with other ingredients, saving you the time of boiling potatoes in advance. A satisfying meal when served up with fresh cornbread or warm sourdough.
If your potato salad has become ho-hum, consider shaking things up with a new version. Did you know Europeans reportedly consume twice as many potatoes as Americans per year? Recipes for international variations can be found at best-potato-recipes.com, plus see recipes for Spanish potato salad and Greek potato bake in today''s pages. Or, try the Amish Pennsylvania Dutch country recipe included. These are courtesy of best-potato-recipes.com.
Even if National Potato Day doesn''t rank at the top of your week''s to-do list, it does give us a chance to spare a thought for this crop that produces about 45 billion pounds of harvest each year and inspires festivals around the globe.
Remember, this Friday, to love the spud.
GREEK POTATO BAKE
6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
Small bunch of fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 small, ripe tomatoes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 pound red new potatoes
1/4 pound crab meat
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons nonfat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons nonfat yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
SPANISH POTATO SALAD
2 pounds new potatoes
1/2 medium Spanish onion, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 pinch saffron threads
1 cup real mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 cup flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped
BREAKFAST POTATO CASSEROLE WITH SAUSAGE
4 cups frozen diced hash brown potatoes, thawed (about 16 ounces)
1/2 pound pork sausage or sliced sausage links
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
BACON CHEESE POTATO SOUP
6 to 8 large baking potatoes
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup butter
8-12 strips bacon, cooked
1 cup sour cream
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
AMISH POTATO SALAD
6 medium white potatoes with skins intact
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.